The hiring of Ron Washington is the type of short-term thinking that has defined the Los Angeles Angels ever since. Art Moreno officially purchased the franchise during the spring of 2003. Those Anaheim Angels were the defending champions. Washington takes over a club with a hellish trajectory. The Halos’ farm system is in a drought and Moreno overpaid for a losing roster that produced meager results. Taking this job makes sense for Washington. He was looking for another chance to lead a club, but it was the strangest fit.
In his introductory press conference, Washington looked back to his halcyon Rangers days and echoed general manager Perry Minasian’s stance on building on top of the Angels’ shaky foundation.
“If you remember now — I was in Texas, and guess what we did? We ran the Angels,” Washington told a large conference room of media members, team employees and current and former players. “Now I’m in California, with the Anaheim Angels – well, the Los Angeles Angels. I’ll get it in my head. Once we get things together, get these guys together in spring training and start working, our whole focus is going to be to take down the West run. And you can take it to the bank and deposit it.”
No matter what city the Angels are associated with, it’s still the Moreno Angels and his Halos are years away from making a difference. It is a club that is one of the shallowest farm system talent reservoirs in all of MLB and at the same time boasts one of the most cost-inefficient rosters in baseball around Mike Trout. They needed a younger, more lively manager than the 71-year-old Washington.
The Angels weren’t a club built to win in the short term with Shohei Ohtani under contract and they certainly won’t be if he decamps in free agency this winter. It’s no way to harp on Washington’s advanced age, but the two-year clock for Washington doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles. It is not entirely clear what direction they are taking as an organization.
It has been nine years since the Halos appeared in the postseason, and 14 since they last won a playoff game. The implication is that this club is going to continue on the same path they’ve been on since Trout was promoted to the big leagues in 2012. Instead of trading the now 32-year-old and launching a rebuild, the English are hiring a septuagenarian to lead competitive pro baseball’s version of a get-rich-quick scheme.
The aggressive offseason which Minasian hinted gives the impression that they will double down on their deadline deals of two of their top prospects for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez and Giolito were supposed to facilitate their playoff battle, but were dropped in September. The Moreno Angels live to eat egg off their own faces.
Washington’s appointment is even more puzzling considering his scandal-plagued time with Texas and his baffling departure. The last time Washington was in charge of a club, he abruptly resigned as manager of the Rangers before the end of the 2014 season. A report of then Scoop Sports CEO said the issue is “due to an imminent legal issue arising from an alleged sexual assault from a reporter.” The murky allegations gained more weight when then-general manager Ron Daniels did not deny the allegations, choosing only to say that he had been given permission to say it was not drug-related. However, Washington later admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife.
His battles with drug addiction and constant relapses while serving as manager of the Rangers often overshadowed their four consecutive 90-win seasons and consecutive World Series berths. In 2009, Washington failed a drug test and offered his resignation to Daniels.
Since Mike Scioscia resigned after 18 years at the helm, the England managerial position has been a game of musical chairs. Since 2017, Washington has served as the third base coach of the Atlanta Braves. However, in the wake of Dusty Baker’s retirement, he will be the oldest manager in baseball. For a playoff-ready club that could use Washington’s wisdom, like the Astros used Baker’s, this would be a logical hire. However, the Angels are turning to Washington to be their fifth manager since 2018. Given all those potential conflicts, this seems destined to be another ill-advised move for the Moreno Angels.